Big business blasts unemployment benefits in jobs dearth

Costco, Walmart among companies boosting pay to lure workers

America's employers have job openings, just not the workers to fill them, and big business is blaming long and lucrative unemployment benefits.

That was highlighted after the U.S. economy added 266,000 jobs in April, well below the nearly 1 million economists were predicting. The unemployment rate ticked higher to 6.1%. 

"One step policymakers should take now is ending the $300 weekly supplemental unemployment benefit. Based on the Chamber’s analysis, the $300 benefit results in approximately one in four recipients taking home more in unemployment than they earned working," said the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in a statement released following the report. 

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is the world’s largest business organization representing companies big and small across all industries.

LABOR SHORTAGE SOLUTION: STOP PAYING PEOPLE NOT WORK

The extra $300 weekly payment will remain in place through September as part of President Biden's $1.9 stimulus package signed in March, which also included another round of $1,400 payments that are making their way to recipients from the U.S. Treasury Department. 

Labor Secretary Marty Walsh, during a Friday appearance on Varney & Co, disputed the idea that insurance benefits are disincentivizing job seekers.

"People are not coming back to work because their job is not there, it has nothing to do in my opinion or very little to do with unemployment insurance," he said.

Ticker Security Last Change Change %
WMT WALMART, INC. 135.17 -2.55 -1.85%
COST COSTCO WHOLESALE CORP. 380.88 -3.87 -1.01%

In recent months, companies including Costco and Walmart raised minimum wage pay. 

Ticker Security Last Change Change %
TGT TARGET CORP. 230.53 -0.69 -0.30%
CMG CHIPOTLE MEXICAN GRILL, INC. 1,400.12 +5.90 +0.42%

Target also lifted wages. Others, including Chipotle, are offering free college tuition to employees who work 15 hours a week. 

FED'S POWELL SAYS HIRING BOTTLENECKS IN LABOR MARKET LIKELY TO END IN COMING MONTHS

Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell, just last month, noted the impact the extra money may be having on worker shortages. 

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"I do also think that unemployment insurance benefits will run out in September," he said. "So to the extent that's a factor – which is not clear – it will not be a factor fairly soon." 

FOX Business' Megan Henney and Brittany De Lea contributed to this report.